Entertainment The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters  

Lon Harris
Originally by
152.2k votes 10.7k voters 144.4k views 291 items

List Rules Only individual songwriters of *rock songs* who are still alive. No duos. No bands.

Who is the best songwriter alive today? The musician responsible for the lyrics and music that's the most memorable, significant and lasting in all of rock history, who is still with us today. We're talking, over the course of an entire career, the person who has written the most great songs--the best songwriters of the 21st century. A few things to keep in mind: (1) Songwriting teams are acceptable if they truly worked together (for example, Elton John writing music to Bernie Taupin's lyrics). When possible, as in the case of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, separate them and focus on individual songwriting. (2) LIVING songwriters. Living. (3) I think the ratio of "great songs" to "not good songs" is important to consider. If someone has 2 classic albums of great songs and then 5 albums worth of garbage, that impacts the overall view of the career, no matter how good the original work was. Something to keep in mind.

Add your own selections below and vote up the people you feel are worthy of the title of Greatest Living Rock Songwriter. PLUS, if you have Spotify, you can listen to full songs from each of the listed songwriters on our Ranker playlist!
list ordered by

1
2,902 2,575
Paul McCartney is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Experimental rock

2
2,462 2,579
Bob Dylan is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Benjamin Dunn added Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

3
2,359 1,542
Paul Simon is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

4
1,341 2,219
Neil Young is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Rock music, Experimental rock, Grunge

5
1,258 2,257
Ranker Video
Americana, Blues-rock, Heartland rock

6
1,027 1,789
Billy Joel is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Timetraveler55 added Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music

7
1,199 1,987
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Rock music, Pop rock, Merseybeat

8
736 1,134
Eric Clapton is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Blues-rock, Rock music, Reggae

9
856 1,673
Ranker Video
jdbranded added Skiffle, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

10
946 1,643
Carole King is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
KirkSaw added Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Pop music

11
1,117 1,684
Brian Wilson is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Outsider music

12
810 1,442
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added Americana, Blues-rock, Swamp pop

13
905 1,285
Ranker Video
Pallknowing1 added Folk rock, Progressive rock, Art rock

14
677 1,358
Ranker Video
Mark Holmes added Medieval music, Classic rock, New Wave

15
868 1,673
Ranker Video
Pop music, Rock music, Pop rock

16
561 645
Robert Plant is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk rock

17
569 968
James Taylor is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Blues-rock, Disco, Pop music

18
651 1,323
Ranker Video
Ariel Kana added Pop music, Folk music, Folk jazz

19
673 892
Ranker Video
couchlock420 added Blues-rock, Rock music, Experimental rock

20
571 882
Jeff Lynne is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
ohnoitsmanasco added Disco, Pop music, Rock music - Electric Light Orchestra founder and excellent producer.

21
635 983
Phil Collins is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
ohnoitsmanasco added Blue-eyed soul, Pop music, Rock music

22
471 705
Barry Gibb is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Cory85 added Adult contemporary music, Blue-eyed soul, Disco - The last surviving Bee Gee.

23
356 152
Elton John is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Piano rock

24
472 519
Neil Diamond is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
HelenNguyen added Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

25
346 509
Burt Bacharach is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Vocal music

26
467 432
Stevie Nicks is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Classic rock, Pop music, Rock music

27
435 643
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Adult contemporary music, Pop music, Rhythm and blues

28
685 1,003
Ranker Video
TVs Frank added New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

29
260 109
Mick Jagger is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Ferry73 added Blues-rock, Rock music, Dance-rock

30
504 591
Ranker Video
Randolph Strauss added Ballad, Country pop, Pop music

31
300 431
John Mellencamp is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Americana, Heartland rock, Rock music

32
411 634
Ranker Video
New Wave, Worldbeat, Experimental music

33
593 778
Ranker Video
New Wave, Rock music, Pub rock

34
298 362
Bono is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
MarioArley added Rock music, Alternative rock, Post-punk

35
405 364
Don Henley is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Country rock

36
323 370
Alice Cooper is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Glam metal, Experimental rock, Shock rock

37
258 213
Brian May is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
dreapress added Rock music, Heavy metal, Pop rock

38
671 797
Mark Knopfler is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
looksharp added Celtic rock, Blues-rock, Rock music

39
364 521
Tom Waits is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Blues-rock, Rock music, Folk music

40
400 332
Willie Nelson is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Outlaw country, Americana, Traditional pop music

41
266 364
Kris Kristofferson is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
danmedsker added Outlaw country, Rock music, Folk music

42
323 378
Jackson Browne is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Rock music, Folk music, Folk rock

43
409 519
Ranker Video
KirkSaw added Synthpop, Sufi rock, Nasheed - Cat Stevens

44
360 347
Bob Seger is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
autosurvive added Blue-eyed soul, Heartland rock, Rock music

45
266 482
Ranker Video
LaurieM added Blues-rock, Rock music, Protopunk

46
223 158
Lindsey Buckingham is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
sssvnnn added New Wave, Pop music, Rock music

47
249 341
Rod Stewart is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
New Wave, Rock music, Rhythm and blues

48
335 382
Gordon Lightfoot is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Pop music, Rock music, Folk music

49
221 342
Don McLean is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Folk music, Folk rock

50
294 222
Aerosmith is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Living Rock Songwriters
Glam metal, Blues-rock, Rock music